Four Stages of Preparing Your Luxury Home for Sale

Over the last 30 years, I have participated in hundreds of luxury real estate transactions, and whether representing the seller or the buyer, there is one quote that absolutely rings true in all luxury home sales and that is: “You only have one chance to make a great first impression.” Sellers who make the commitment to preparing their home in a clean, organized uncluttered manner are rewarded with higher offers, more of them and a faster sale.

Every home and homeowner is unique – from families with young children, to retirees with decades of family keepsakes, sports enthusiasts with memorabilia on display, and collectors of delicate knickknacks. I have sold homes that belonged to a gourmet chef with counter tops laden with gadgets and small appliances, as well as pet lovers, and even jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts. In each case, a specific plan is needed to prepare the property for sale.

While all situations are different, there are four stages that I like to recommend to my luxury listing clients to ensure the smoothest transition from making the decision to sell, to readying the property for sale, which entails professional photography, and fastidious maintenance of the home for regular showings.  With an organized approach, this seemingly daunting task can be made much less stressful and much more manageable.

Studies show that a buyer’s first 10 seconds in your home leaves the greatest impression and stays with them through the duration of the showing.  To guarantee that you make an amazing first impression, your home may need days or even weeks to groom.  As your chosen realtor, while we are working on developing a pricing and marketing strategy, signing and submitting paperwork and other tasks, I can also work with you to determine the most valuable and powerful improvements you can make to affect appearances and translate into value to you the seller.

We’re happy to share this four-step approach to preparing your luxury residence for sale.


  • Take inventory of the big picture. Does your home have major projects that need to be done such as removing or replacing landscaping, roof leaks, or a garage that has been used as a warehouse?
  • If some of the work requires significant investment such as roofing, moving and warehousing excess furniture and containers, and other large projects, how long will those take to accomplish and are you prepared for the cost of such tasks?
  • Do you have an urgent timetable because of job relocation or other obligations?
  • Is your schedule over the next several months such that you can allow regular showings of your property? 


  • Start at the curb and work your way to the front door. Notice every detail from low hanging branches on the trees, to the condition of your yard, windows, doors, roof, gutters, fencing, driveway, decking, walkways, steps…everything.   
  • Imagine yourself seeing your home for the first time. I assure you every detail does make a difference. Be hyper-critical and write down every item you see that needs attention.  I will review the list with you and help you assess where focusing your efforts will have the greatest effect.
  • Walk the entire outside of your home because you can be sure that any serious buyer will! Note where shrubs should be trimmed for easy passage or stepping stones may need leveling.  Broken sprinkler heads may need to be replaced and your driveway, pool deck or walkway could use a power washing.  Look for loose gates or shutters needing repair…is there a screen missing, torn or falling off?
  • Open your front door and stand there for a minute. What do you see?  Repeat this at the entrance to each and every room.  Make a note of every item needing requiring attention – cob webs, burned out bulbs, scuffed baseboards, furniture stains, scarred flooring, grout that needs cleaning, seals around sinks, toilets and other fixtures that should be bleached or touched up, drapes hanging askew, shades, shutters or blinds needing repair, bedding that could use sprucing up, leaking faucets, broken tiles, windows that aren’t working…the list can be endless, but don’t despair, every single small detail that receives your attention does add value to your home and helps to command a higher price.
  • Buyers will want to see how cabinets open, builtin drawers slide, and closet doors work.  Take inventory of the areas that will need the most attention for cleaning up and cleaning out.  Neatly organized closets and cabinets give a sense of space, something important to every buyer.
  • Are all of your appliances and large equipment in working order and clean? Are the outdoor areas for your pool heater and cleaner and the HVAC system accessible, neat and organized?
  • Ensure that your garage is visible and not overflowing with boxes, furniture and odd items. Buyers want to be able to see the space.  And don’t underestimate the importance of a clean, spot-free floor.   
  • It is important to remember that if small simple things are broken, cracked or dirty, prospective buyers will be left wondering what else they can’t see.

closet photo


  • After we decide which projects are most important for you to accomplish, I can recommend service contractors, specialist cleaning services, even professional organizers and home staging experts to help you get the best results at a fair price.  
  • Set dates for each of the projects to be accomplished so that we can be ready for that first showing as soon as possible.
  • Enlist the help of family and friends. I have found that sometimes it is much easier for someone else to take on tasks such as weeding through the “junk drawer.”
  • Neatly folding items on closet shelves, shoes tidily arranged, and clothes all hung help to give an appearance of spaciousness.
  • If you have been thinking of giving furniture, family heirlooms, collectibles, photo albums, tools or yard equipment to your kids or your favorite charity, this is the time to do it.
  • A light and bright room is most appealing to a prospective buyer, so would moving a piece of furniture or removing another item help to create more open space or light in the room?
  • Purchase a few different sizes of plastic storage containers that can hold your personal items that you would otherwise keep on counter tops, bedside tables, kitchen counters, and desks. After sorting through the items that you can part with, being ready on short notice for a showing is important and these boxes will come in handy.
  • If you have patio or yard furniture, clean it and arrange it in such a way that it appears you’re “ready to entertain.”
  • Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! This cannot be overstated.  When was the last time you cleaned the oven?  The inside of your hood?  The shelves and drawers of your refrigerator and freezer?  The carpet?  Washed the windows inside and out?  As mentioned, there are professional services that work specifically on preparing luxury properties for sale.  It can make sense to have them take on the major deep cleaning then leave it to your regular housekeeper to maintain during the selling period. 


  • As a standard courtesy, realtors usually try to provide 24-hours notice of a showing of your property. However, it is not always possible so always being ready for a showing is the best strategy.
  • While your home is listed be cognizant of odors – baked fish might not be the best dinner to cook the night before a showing. Keeping a few lightly scented deodorizers in closets or small rooms can help, but keep it light.  Usually fragrances such as linen or vanilla offer a fresh scent without being distracting.
  • When getting ready for a showing, wet towels draped over shower rods or jumbled on a hook are a definite no-no. Bathroom sinks, mirrors, toilets, bathtubs, faucets, counter tops and visible shelves should be wiped down and sparkling.  Floors should be clean and area rugs neatly arranged.  Think of having some “show” towels at the ready and a basket with lid carefully placed so it is unobtrusive if you need to quickly remove used towels.
  • Consider assigning one of those newly purchased plastic storage containers to each member of the household so that when you get the call for a showing, everkitchen photoyone can pitch in to help prepare your home.
  • In the kitchen store small appliances out of sight. The sink and faucets should be wiped dry and without spots, and sponges and other cleaning supplies put away.  Back splashes and counter tops should be cleaned.  Stove top, microwave and the outside of the dishwasher, refrigerator, and oven fronts should all be polished.   
  • Don’t forget the laundry room. Buyers will want to see this area so it is important not to use it as a catch-all area while your home is listed.   
  • If you are a pet lover, you will need to think like a prospective buyer who has no pets. During our showings, it will be best to have them out of the house. I know that can sometimes be difficult, but consider engaging a neighbor to see if they can sit for your dog or cat for a short time. Putting them in the yard, a spare room or garage is just not sufficient.  Litter boxes, potty pads must be out of sight and impeccably clean to prevent any chance of odors.  Put away bowls, cat scratching posts and other paraphernalia wherever possible.   
  • In the office, be sure that your private papers are well concealed, that your desk is as neat as possible, and your computer screen is closed or off during the showing.
  • Make sure that any trash cans or bins throughout the home are either completely empty or well hidden and odor-free.
  • Make a habit of keeping the home clean and free of clutter throughout the sale period. Keeping up with it on a daily basis will reduce your stress when showings are scheduled.

Our success in selling your luxury home in the shortest time and at the best price is in large part a result of following through with well-planned preparations.  Small touches like a fresh vase of flowers (light on fragrance) on the kitchen counter or blooming geraniums in the pots framing the front step can make a big difference. Don’t underestimate the details, because a potential buyer may not notice every one, but they certainly can and will affect the buyers’ overall impression.

Together we can make your home the very best in its market.  So let’s get started! Give me a call today!


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